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october 15, 2019

AIHO’s Summer Immersion programme featured as one of Walk Together’s Sparks of Hope

Preparing the next generation of health professionals to provide health for all in the Philippines

Of the over 100 million people living in The Philippines, many still lack access to basic healthcare. The healthcare system in the country has often been described as “fragmented”, with large discrepancies between national health policy and what Local Government Units budget for and provide on the ground. Despite the government committing to Universal Health Coverage in 2010, the reality in the country is inconsistent services, with half the recommended amount of beds for the population size, and the majority of health services concentrated in cities and urban centres. Government health services are generally perceived as low quality, with long waiting times and worn out facilities and it remains the case that most health spending comes from the pockets of ordinary Filipinos.

AIHO’s Summer Immersion annual activity is featured as one of Walk Together’s Sparks of Hope. See the feature here: https://www.walk-together.org/sparks-of-hope/2018/01/22/the-alliance-for-improving-health-outcomes/

Another huge challenge for Filipino healthcare is retaining health workers in the country. The Philippines is a major source of health professionals to the rest of the world. They are the highest exporter of nurses and second highest exporter of physicians (although many are only employed as nurses in receiving countries). The socio-economic status of The Philippines means many skilled workers seek employment in other countries. This means significant health resources are being lost from The Philippines. In addition, the county struggles to retain talent in the public sector; only 30% of health professionals work in public healthcare facilities, addressing the health needs of the majority, while the remaining 70% work in the more expensive, privately run healthcare facilities. Lastly, although the overall number of healthcare workers is high, they are unevenly distributed among the country, with most being in Metro Manila and other urban centres, despite high health needs in rural areas.

AIHO Summer Immersion is featured in “Sparks of Hope”, a collection of innovative activities around the world promoted by South Africa-based The Elders.

AIHO is working to change the course of the Philippines public health system, and steer it towards economic growth. They aim to encourage students and professionals to pursue public health as a career in The Philippines and conduct public health advocacy. They also run research and consultancy projects for and with the government that are ultimately geared towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage.

AIHO provides a nurturing environment for students and budding professionals who are interested in pursuing careers in public health. The organisation offers a dynamic range of programs including complementary outside-school learning, opportunity mapping, networking, and career guidance initiatives. They run a mentoring scheme for budding professionals, recognising a growing number of young public health professionals who do not receive proper guidance and support. The aim of the mentors is to provide guidance on how to navigate the field of public health. By matching the expertise of the mentor with the areas of interest of the mentee, the mentee is provided unique opportunities for networking with personalities in their chosen field.

By preparing the public health professionals of the future, and ensuring talent remains in The Philippines, AIHO is helping to build a more robust national healthcare system which can provide free healthcare for all. This would ensure no one would have to avoid seeking treatment because of high healthcare costs, or become indebted from ill health.

Interested about AIHO Immersion? 

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